After receiving his BA in Philosophy from Cambridge and his M.Phil in Classical India Religion at Oxford University, McHugh received his Ph.D in Sanskrit from Harvard University in 2008.

McHugh’s PhD focus was on perfume making in ancient India, and he is probably the very first graduate student to officially attach and archive scents as part of his PhD thesis. He did this through a series of historic reconstitutions with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel.

He is now a professor of Indian religions at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, continuing his research on the history of the sense of smell and perfumery with a focus on India.

McHugh recently concluded a fellowship with Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities, and his book on smell, ‘Sandalwood and Carrion’, was published by Oxford University Press in September 2012.

James McHugh has served as a judge in preliminary round for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Art and Olfaction Awards.